Council seeks ‘gateway’ ideas for new public space

Old Street Roundabout

Source: TfL / Tom Eames

Old Street roundabout seen from above

Design ideas are being sought for the new public space that will be created by the remodelling of London’s Old Street roundabout, a landmark for the capital’s tech community.

The junction, which hosts a London Underground station and National Rail services, is set to be part-pedestrianised next year, offering new possibilities for art installations and landscaping projects.

Islington council, along with neighbouring authority Hackney and mayoral body Transport for London, is calling for ideas from architects, urban planners, artists, and the technology sector on how Old Street roundabout can be transformed with new public art and “smart city” innovation.

Under the reworking of Old Street’s 1960s traffic scheme, the north-west section of the island will be pedestrianised, creating a “peninsula” for those on foot, and introducing a new entrance to Old Street station.

The ideas competition brief suggested that proposals would need to create a “gateway” feel for Old Street, as well as fitting in with planned new infrastructure and existing digital advertising. Submissions also need to capitalise on Tonkin Liu’s “Promenade of Light” feature constructed in 2006.


Old Street roundabout, with AHMM’s White Collar Factory under construction to the right

Leon Daniels, TfL’s managing director of surface transport, said that in addition to improving air quality and reducing car dependency, the radical redesign of Old Street roundabout was an opportunity for Tech City to express itself.

“The open call for design ideas will ensure that vast array of creative talent that exists in London, especially in the Old Street area, can play a part in re-designing the area so that the local community, and people who work in or visit the area, benefit from a truly inspiring new public space,” he said.

Islington council in particular said it was keen to see “innovative design concepts for the public space that encompass public art and embrace the spirit of Tech City”.

Claudia Webbe, the council’s environment and transport lead, said the design competition was a unique opportunity for a new “exciting, bold, iconic gateway” to be created.

“We are looking for innovative and inspiring ideas, which tap into the pioneering spirit of creativity for which Old Street is so famous,” she said.

The ideas competition is open to submissions until midday on January 29 next year, but comes with the proviso that suggestions must be deliverable within a budget of £1 million – unless teams can identify viable external funding.